Release date: May 27, 2021
No, you have to be so sorry that I know you’ll never lie to me again, so that I know I can still trust you forever. Like nothing has changed.Taylor Jenkins Reid, Malibu Rising
I had such high hopes for Malibu Rising, since Taylor Jenkins Reid has been one of my favourite authors for a while now. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones & the Six are both on my favourites list, and it was Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing that really got me interested in historical fiction novels. Her stories are always so believable, and are always impossible for me to put down; they are filled with drama and gripping narratives of the past. When Malibu Rising was released, I knew I needed to read it right away.
Malibu Rising follows the four Riva siblings, Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit as they prepare for Nina’s annual summer party – which sounded like the perfect summer read to me. The siblings are famous, both because their father is Mick Riva (a singer who makes an appearance in Evelyn Hugo), and because they themselves are surfers, Nina a supermodel, and Hud a photographer. The book goes back and forth from the past, during Mick Riva’s younger days, to the present, where all four siblings are more grown up. This type of setup is quite typical of Taylor Jenkins Reid, and has been a favourite of mine as well.
Unfortunately, this book did fall short for me, and I’ll get into it what I liked and disliked from it. Let me know if you’ve read Malibu Rising and share your thoughts in the comments!
Taylor Jenkins Reid writes historical fiction so believably that I often have to remind myself that it’s historical fiction. After I read Daisy Jones & The Six, I found myself researching the band and all their songs thinking to myself, “Wait, was this an actual band?”, because I was so convinced by her writing. What I loved about this book were the references to her other novels and characters – I mean Mick Riva himself is from The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. She builds this world of celebrities through the decades, and her characters refer to older ones as icons or recall headlines from the past that were key moments in her other works. Taylor Jenkins Reid makes you truly believe that Daisy Jones existed, The Six existed, Mick Riva and his four children existed, Evelyn Hugo existed, Celia St. James, existed, etc. That, of course, I loved about Malibu Rising as well, but I didn’t feel that it was to the same extent.
Taylor Jenkins Reid never fails with her characters, and as someone who reads for the characters more than the plot, that factors into how I rate a book. If I didn’t love Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit as much as I did, this book would definitely get 3 stars, but I loved these characters so much, and a story about close siblings was really refreshing.
I genuinely liked reading about all four of the siblings, but Nina and Kit were definitely my favourites. Kit was the younger relatable one who seems always to be a little left out, but I feel she had the most character development and I really enjoyed that aspect. I loved Nina the most, and reading about the sacrifices she had to make and issues she had to endure being the oldest sibling.
This book made me pretty emotional – again not uncommon with Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books – especially reading about the relationship between the siblings and everything they went through as a family. I don’t want to spoil too much about their lives, but just know that the dynamic of these four siblings will bring you to tears.
Why I Didn’t Give it 5 Stars
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones & the Six were two books that just completely blew my mind, and I think I had those high expectations going into Malibu Rising, which it just didn’t live up to. I was expecting a book where secrets and drama were in no short supply, but I felt this was really lacking the wow factor, and I didn’t have any moments where i was truly shocked. With Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books, I find they are books that I just completely fly through out of a desperation to keep reading and find out what will happen. With Malibu Rising, I took over a month to read it, because I kept putting it down and picking up other books; there wasn’t really anything making me feel like I needed to keep reading.
I also wish surfing was a bigger topic because I thought that would’ve been really interesting, and I loved the backstory of how the siblings got their first boards. As for the big party, I didn’t feel that it lived up to it’s name of “party of the year” and I wish there was a little bit less random seemingly unrelated things be focused on.
Read this book. It’s not my favourite of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books, but it’s still a really moving book with some of the best characters I’ve read about. It’s the perfect summer book, so go read it because Fall is just around the corner!